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Hiroshima July 21, 2012

Posted by ethlite in Uncategorized.
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I just got back from a vacation in Japan, visited four major cities – Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima. As amazing and wonderful those cities were, Hiroshima is the one that made a lasting impression.

Hiroshima is the anti-911. I am not talking about the moral (and pointless) evaluation of which one is worse, the dead couldn’t care less if it was terrorists or the US army that killed them. What I’m talking about is the way the two cultures chose to memorialize and interpretĀ these horrible events.

In both cases, the victims are innocent civilians. The difference is that theĀ Japanese don’t call the victims “heroes”. The dead in both tragedies are victims of terrible violence and don’t deserve what happened to them, but how does the concept of heroism get mixed into this?

Without exception, the Japanese memorials all speak of hope for lasting world peace, whereas the 911 slogan is “never forget”. Never forget what, exactly? Yes, it’s very skillful (someone’s mass communications professor would be proud) to leave it ambiguous, so everyone can fill in the blanks on their own. But it’s also manipulative, dishonest and ultimately disrespectful to the actual victims of the atrocities.